Fiend Folio: 10 Best and Most Enduring Monsters

Last week, I had some fun with the original Fiend Folio and its many silly monsters. But I've got to admit there are some strong, classic creatures in there as well. FF's major contributions were to extra-planar monsters, and these had their longevity ensured by high-level summoners and later, the Planescape setting. Here then, to balance things out, a grab bag of Fiend Folio favorites (fill in your own) and the book's contributions that have had the longest-lasting impact on the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons. We'll start with a couple of my personal favorite horrors, to then plunge into the real winners.

10. Penanggalan
Strictly a persona favorite (replace with one of the Daemons if you like), but the Penanggalan is one of the creepiest, most horrifying new undead to come out of the Fiend Folio (and there were a LOT). It's a flying vampire head with its guts hanging out of its neck! Aerodynamic hairdo aside, you gotta admit, that's pretty freaky.

9. Son of Kyuss
Speaking of freaky, here's my other favorite FF undead, and it's all down to the graphic maggots animating it. Though not particularly powerful, they made a nice medium-level alternative to the usual skeletons, zombies and ghouls, and were much more memorable.

8. Giant Two-Headed Troll
I'll freely admit that I'm something of a comedian when it comes to playing NPCs. This Troll variant is a natural double act, so how could I not want to put him in my games? I think the possibility of two-headed trolls as PCs is the only reason I bought the Hahlmabrea RPG too...

7. Death Knight
You say Death Knight, I say Nazgûl, let's call the whole thing off. These guys ride Nightmares into the PCs' camp and try to get the One Ring from you. Or something else you hold dear.

6. Mephit
I don't know how much I thought of Mephit before Planescape, but these hot elemental pixies became my favored wizard's familiar after. Choose from Fire, Smoke, Steam and Lava to suit your outfit!

5. Slaad
When looking to populate the Outer Planes, Limbo was handed over to the Slaadi of various colors. I'll question their "hierarchy" (they're Chaotic Neutral after all), but not their place in the Planescape universe. It's lovely to be sitting in an inn across from a giant frog.

4. Githyanki
On the one hand, they got the cover. On the other, while Planescape didn't make these Astral Plane nomads into a player character race, that's exactly what happened to their mortal enemies, the Githzerai. Since one implies the other, and the Githzerai look like humans and are pretty boring, all told, I've only included the cool side of that combo. But feel free to think of the Githzerai as #4.5.

3. Kuo-Toa
It helps when you put in an appearance BEFORE the Fiend Folio came out (in Gary Gygax's Shrine of the Kuo-Toa). Basically Lovecraftian Deep Ones, the Kuo-Toa have a Polynesian vibe going as well, which makes them perfect for that vacation your players wanted to take down south.

2. Oriental Dragons
Though they were bound to show up eventually thanks to Oriental Adventures, this is where they first did (along with a few other oriental monsters). Their longevity is undeniable, but then, they were around long before the role-playing revolution.

1. Drow
The obvious winner. Not only did Dark Elves appear in adventure modules before Fiend Folio came out, but it's almost a crime that the Monster Manual didn't think to mention them. They've since become the ninja of the D&D racial set, thanks to the Forgotten Realms character of Drizzt. And just look at that pic. Cool as hell. No wonder players all want to play a reformed Drow.

But perhaps you have other favorites? The comments section is yours!

6 comments:

Jeff R. said...

Really, including the Drow, Kuo-Toa, (or Daemons for that matter) and other early module Gygax creations isn't really right. They may be, technically, in the Fiend Folio but they aren't exactly of the Fiend Folio.

As far as other things that belong on this list, I nominate the Carytid Column. As someone who frequently designed dungeons in which no living being had been for centuries, some of which were not haunted by undead, it was really nice to have an automaton-type monster that a 3-6th level party could handle.

Tom Allman said...

Great Stuff! I bought a Folio at a convention this weekend. I haven't had one since the 80's.

Anonymous said...

In the most pathetic monster list, it may be noted the Dragon fish... A monster who is only dangerous if you step on him!

Roger

Siskoid said...

The Dragon Fish is one of those "trap monsters", that's really more of one and less of the other.

Delta said...

"Not only did Dark Elves appear in adventure modules before Fiend Folio came out, but it's almost a crime that the Monster Manual didn't think to mention them."

But the MM did mention them! (Albeit in a one-paragraph, no-details teaser.) See MM p. 39 under "Elf".

Anonymous said...

"Githyanki, schmithyanki...they's all DAMN Yankees to me!"

--a comment a character of mine made in a comedy campaign we did once. My character was a Ranger, and I decided he was one of Mosby's Rangers, a Confederate cavalry unit.

 

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